Million Dollar Customer Loyalty Lesson
As Prince William and Kate Middleton's royal wedding drew closer, I was increasingly interested. What really got me hooked is the brouhaha surrounding the event. Even the emotions and opinions it elicited from the masses are stupendous.
As the D-day approached people were getting increasingly charged and making statements or projecting beliefs that seemed to be ridiculously overblown, especially against their context. People are making sweeping statements about the monarchy and how it's a drain on the economy. Many are asking why should the masses pay for the royal family's expenses when there is so much poverty, hunger, high unemloyment, and all-around misery.
Americans who were excited about the royal wedding were hearing stuff like, "If you are so enamored by our monarchy we will be more than glad to sell it off to you."
Why did this happen?
Because the people did not have a 64,000-foot perspective! They didn't have a clear understanding of what the monarchy (organization) is all about and what the monarchy's and this wedding's value proposition was. An unclear understanding, lack of, or a confusing value proposition and inconsistency with their brand image are the same reasons why companies and global corporations lose their customer loyalty. It's why your customers don't get excited about your offerings anymore.
Now, let's dig deeper inside this royal wedding to see what we can learn.
The Royal Wedding: The Opportunities
The other side of this story had people obsessed about the wedding. They gobbled up every bit of information about it. They bought souvenirs and made plans for the wedding day. Smart entrepreneurs were ready to cash in on the event by manufacturing memorabilia designed for the wedding, ranging from Kate and William dolls, pillows, tea towels, and even condoms!
Enterprising commoners who lived near the wedding venue were offering their rooms, terraces, and balconies for rent at premium rates to people who wanted to watch the royal couple live and clear. For example, a private balcony from where the church door could be seen was available for $150,000!
London had about 1.1 million visitors from around the world for the wedding, and fans who could not make the trip watched it live on television. We are talking about 2.5 billion pairs of eyeballs across the world.
The obvious effect was a wild increase in travel and tourism costs. Flights were overbooked. Airlines needed to run extra flights to meet demand and they could charge the highest possible rates. Same went for hotels, restaurants, and you name it. According to official tourist agency Visit London, spending in the city is up by approximately $80 million during the wedding weekend.
So how is the royal wedding and monarchy a drain in the economy?
You see, there was a lack of clarity and this is the backbone of effective decision-making. Emotional attachment blurs thinking and leads to tunnel vision, incorrect assertions, and wrong judgments. This is why volatile views and emotionally charged perspectives are more often than not erroneous. But, if you do not give your prospects and customers a 64,000-feet view of an issue happening within your organization, then you are giving them no choice. They are not going to give you the benefit of the doubt.
The Royal Wedding: A 64,000-Foot View
As the above examples clearly demonstrate, monarchy is highly profitable to businesses as well as commoners, and it has tremendous entertainment value for those who are interested. Whether it's the royal wedding, the Princess Diana saga or the Charles Camilla Parker Bowles affair, the monarchy of London regularly ‘produces' highly gripping ‘reality soap opera" that drives the sales of papers, magazines, books, television programming, merchandise, and so on.
The monarchy is a huge tourist attraction and UK tourism brings in about $120 billion annually. Even if the monarchy generates a fourth of the tourism revenue, that's $25 billion. Speaking from a financial perspective, and keeping in mind that the large majority of criticism is focused on how the monarchy is a drain on the economy, why would anyone in his right mind be against the monarchy?
The monarchy is a strong brand to which, like it or not, the brand value of England is inextricably linked. If you got rid of the monarchy, you would erode England's brand value. Now, if England took the time to show, explain, and demonstrate its brand value, its citizens might not have judgments about getting rid of the monarchy.
Now, take a 64,000-foot view of your organization. See what your prospects and customers think of you. Is it consistent with your brand image? Are your decisions in alignment with the brand image of your organization or are they eroding it?
Nick Vaidya is managing partner of the 8020 Strategy Group and consults with companies like Microsoft, Dell, Ebay, Qwest, IBM, and several other mid-sized firms.